Mentally Ill Get Shafted by Illinois Pols

Pols keep life preservers for selves

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    Illinois can take care of its political leaders, but the most vulnerable among us are on our own.

    Take the case of the Howe Developmental Center in Tinley Park. Howe serves about 240 developmentally disabled adults. But Illinois has decided it can't take care of Howe.

    "I understand these are difficult economic times," the Southtown Star's Phil Kadner writes. "However, the problems at Howe, of funding the schools, of helping the mentally ill, even of funding public transportation, have been going on for years."

    And for years, pols have taken care of themselves and their own. Tough times are not, the equation never changes.

    "All anyone drowning in Illinois ever seems to get is an anchor," Kadner writes. "Nothing can be done, the people are told. About anything. Ever."

    As Kadner notes, Howe has had its share of problems. But the state has been unable - or unwilling - to shape things up at Howe or find a better solution for the residents there.

    Gov. Pat Quinn has followed Rod Blagojevich in moving to close Howe. A coalition including some south suburban mayors, a few state lawmakers, and Howe families and staff continue to fight the closure.

    But Howe is about more than just those 240 residents who need our help. Illinois pols are throwing money down the drain giving away free CTA rides to seniors, taking pay increases every year, handing out college scholarships as "constituent service" and, until recently, clouting kids into the University of Illinois. The city subsidizes United Airlines and the Willis Tower and spends $72 million pursuing the Olympics though economists have determined that it's a sure money-loser.

    But there's no fix for Howe. Who can be bothered?

    The developmentally disabled aren't any fun. Hey, who wants to build a casino?

    Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.